Once upon a time, there was a sad women’s volleyball team. On September 15, 2007, it began a 64-game conference losing streak that only ended on October 2, 2010. Between 2002 and 2015 it only had seasons with negative records.
In a cold day of January 2016, a man came from Corpus Christi. He wasn’t a prince riding a white horse, he didn’t wear a mantle and a cap with a feather, but he came to save this sad women’s volleyball team. His name was Tony Graystone.
Our Red Raider didn’t have to fight enormous fire-breathing dragons or three-headed dogs, but bears, wildcats, hostile mountaineers, and longhorns. His first season wasn’t brilliant, as he had a 10-21 record (0-16 in Big 12), but since then his sword began to shine and began to hit.
With the help of a group of young and valiant women, in 2017 Graystone won 4 conference games (best since 2006), obtained a winning record (first time since 2001), and had 19 total victories (best since 2000). In addition, the Red Raiders earned their first postseason berth since 2001 and made it to the NIVC final, where they lost to Ole Miss.
In 2018 things are going even better.
With only six more regular season games to play, Texas Tech has a 16-8 overall record, and it’s fourth in the Big 12 with 5 wins and five losses, matching the best result since 2006. The United Supermarket Arena has become an impregnable fort, as the Red Raiders won seven out of eight games played at home.
The team, led by Grayston, is a productive mix between veterans and newcomers, and it’s led by senior setter Missy Owens, a 2017 All-Big 12 Second Team who averages 10.26 assists per game.
Opposite to her, junior Emily Hill is having an outstanding season, as she is among the top of the Big 12 in points, service aces, and kills. Freshman hitter Brooke Kanas (two times Big 12 Rookie of the Week this year) and sophomore middle blocker Allison White are two surprises of the season, as they emerged despite their young age.
Senior middle blocker Katy Keenan is a four-year starter with tons of experience, while junior hitter Chandler Atwood is confirming her fantastic sophomore year with a series of fantastic performances.
And what about our libero, sophomore Emerson Solaro, 2017-18 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team and 2018 UTRGV Tournament MVP, who’s third in the Big 12 in digs per set?
Now, how far can our heroines go?
We don’t see a conference record with more wins than losses since the year 2000, and it’s hard to predict if this will happen this year. Texas Tech still has to face #7 Texas and it’s hard to believe this won’t be a loss.
But after this, let’s have a look at the standings:
You can find in black teams the Red Raiders still have to face, and you can see games against Baylor, Oklahoma, and Iowa State can have any result, so it’s very hard to predict how much the team will obtain until the end of the season.
In addition, with the berth to the 2017 NIVC, Texas Tech ended a 16-year postseason drought, but there’s a concrete chance to fight for the admission to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. In 2017, teams like Oregon and Washington State were in with not-so-fantastic records of 17-11 and 17-15, so we can see our girls can be in if they can finish this season on a high note.
This would be a great award for a program that has made enormous steps forward in these last two years, and this would be the well-deserved happy ending for our man coming from Corpus Christi and his group of proud players.